The legislature returned from a week off and started putting together omnibus finance bills, which must be out of committees by April 24. With just over a month left in the session, the pace of activity will continue to accelerate.
State of the State
Governor Dayton gave his fifth State of the State address, where he highlighted his priorities as transportation, education, water quality and passage of a bonding bill this session. He said Minnesota should make use of the surplus the state has generated by investing in these priorities.
Just before the break, the Senate and House released budget targets for major finance bills. On Thursday, the Senate DFL released new targets, which made relatively minor adjustments. Senate and House Committees will now develop detailed budget proposals with their targets.
With a fresh new transportation proposal in hand, the House Transportation Committee took public testimony on the revised plan (HF4 Kelly – R, Red Wing). Testimony generally fell into two categories: praise for creating a long-term plan without raising any new taxes, and dissatisfaction with a lack of additional funding for public transit. Potential amendments to the bill are expected to be heard in committee on Monday.
The Senate Jobs Committee held an informational hearing and heard testimony on four different bills related to workers’ protection. This legislation includes expanded earned sick and safe time for employees (SF481 Pappas – DFL, St. Paul), more potent protections and harsher punishments against wage violations (SF1328 Tomassoni – DFL, Chisholm) and a requirement to schedule hourly workers 21 days in advance (SF1330 Latz – DFL, St. Louis Park). For more detail on the proposed sick and safe time as well as the wage theft protection & fair scheduling bills, please reference our background article on the Working Parents Act.
Two bills heard in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee had widespread support from both members and testifiers. HF1776 (Pinto – DFL, St. Paul) expands infrastructure for the purpose of investigating and combating crimes related to sex trafficking, and HF1056 (Norton – DFL, Rochester) establishes a grant program for the funding of technology beneficial to the location of lost or wandering mentally impaired individuals. Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in the committee’s omnibus bill, which is expected to be heard next Tuesday..
The Department of Education presented Governor’s Dayton revised education proposal to the House and Senate Education Finance Committees this week. Much of the testimony in both bodies focused on the 1 percent increase in the per-pupil formula and the merits of all-day universal preschool.
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